24 November 2009: A film documenting the journeys of five young people with Down Syndrome as they realise their hopes and dreams was launched recently at the Sydney Opera House.
Maurice Hanlon, Lecturer in Social Work at ACU's Strathfield Campus
The Up, Up and Away DVD project enlisted the support of community members and organisations to help the participants acquire new life skills, take up education and training opportunities, and gain employment.
As part of the project a number of young people with Down Syndrome visited social work students from Australian Catholic University's (ACU) Strathfield Campus. Through a series of workshops, they taught them about disability issues and helped them see beyond the Down Syndrome label.
Maurice Hanlon, Lecturer in Social Work, said the sessions were fascinating and the students found them to be among the most inspiring and meaningful moments they had at ACU.
He said the film would be used around Australia and internationally as an advocacy, education and training tool, not only for people with Down Syndrome but also their families, carers, service providers, students in human services, policy makers and the broader community.
"The film embraces the notion that people with Down Syndrome and intellectual disabilities, like anyone else, need to be connected and to have useful life experiences in work, friendship and relationships," Maurice said. "Everyone is special, has equal value and dreams to realise."
The Up, Up and Away DVD project was funded by The Foundation for Young Australians in conjunction with Down Syndrome NSW. It was filmed by Genevieve Clay, who won this years Tropfest with her short film Be My Brother. Star of the film, Gerard ODwyer, is a young man with Down Syndrome and a participant in the Up, Up and Away project.
Copies of the DVD and accompanying project manual can be purchased from Down Syndrome NSW by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org